Have you ever tried birch sap?Legion Media
That’s right. Tree juice. What’s more, from a very young age. Birch sap is one of the most popular traditional Russian drinks, so Russians know the taste of birch trees well. They first came up with the idea way back in ancient Russia when Birch sap, as well as kvas (a drink made of fermented bread and malt), was used as raw material for making wine.
If a Russian tells you the juice is squeezed from birch logs, don't believe it – they’re just pulling your leg. In order to obtain the juice, you must go to a forest between March, when the snow is melting, and the end of April. Make a small hole in the tree trunk about two centimeters deep, insert a straw and then put a jar under it. Usually, one birch tree produces between two and three liters of sap a day.
But isn't it strange to drink tree juice? Perhaps. But it does no harm to the tree—the main thing is to plug or seal the hole when you’re done—and consuming it is good for you. Birch sap has
Nearly 178,000 people live in Norilsk [2,881 km from Moscow], which is one of the coldest and northernmost cities in the world, Here, sub-zero temperatures last for up to 280 days a year, and summer in the conventional sense doesn't exist. Food prices are high because delivering anything from central Russia takes a long time and is costly, and because food products here have a long shelf life they are virtually tasteless.
These are inhuman conditions, you might say. But in
New Year corporate partyVladimir Smirnov/TASS
For us it is hard to explain to foreigners the significance of the nine-day holiday over the New Year period and why Russians celebrate the new year once on Dec. 31, according to the Gregorian calendar, and then again on Jan. 13, based on the Julian calendar and called the Old New Year. Or why some Russians celebrate the new year 11 times—once for each
In Ulyanovsk, the governor even made up a new holiday called Conception Day (Sept. 12) and the birth rate there in June has doubled!
Heli-golf competitions are held every year. The pilot, the
Rublevskie bani sauna complexMoskva Agency
This is what people in olden days who only bathed in bathhouses used to say. In the past one could be poisoned by carbon monoxide in the bathhouse, so the congratulation made sense. Nowadays people say it out of habit, albeit with sincerity.
People look at a giant valenki boot made by artist Valeria LoshakYuri Belinsky/TASS
"Bigger is better." Russians are maniacs about everything being gigantic. In
The most popular stereotype about Russians does actually have some justification. While not every Russian keeps a bear in their apartment, it does happen. The authorities have long tried to ban keeping bears as domestic pets, but the practice remains perfectly legal. Their owners will good-naturedly shrug their shoulders and assure you the bear is friendly and would never hurt you. Would you believe them? If you see a bear being taken for a walk on the street, our two cents is to not get too close.
A trolleybus in MoscowMoskva Agency
Would you like some bortsch?Legion Media
The average Russian can't survive without soup. So don't be surprised if you're invited to someone's home to find a giant pot of it waiting for you. Most likely it will be filled with borsch (which rather resembles a cooked salad served in
A child at the Kharp reindeer farm in the village of Krasnoye (Nenets Autonomous Region)Anton Taibarei/TASS
Russia is the world's most multiethnic country with over 200 different ethnic groups. Today around 42,000 of the country's inhabitants are native peoples. For instance, the Nenets, of whom there are about 30,000 altogether, live in the tundra of the Far North. They build reindeer skin tents, eat the antlers of young reindeer, play with birds' beaks as children and lead a nomadic existence. Also, the children of the Nenets are taken to school by helicopter.
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